Editorial Opinions

The opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the Webmaster, who in effect, is the Editor of this web site. The opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the NBTFHF, the Executive & Directors nor it's members.

Its been asked "What is the purpose of the Editorial page?". Too often, trappers & fur harvesters stay silent on issues that may, will and have affected our activities on the whole. Hopefully, viewing one person's opinion will spark some positive debate by others and entice trappers to become a little more vocal on issues concerning trapping in New Brunswick. If you have an opinion you would like to express and have it published on this page, email it to the Webmaster. There are a few guidelines, no profanity, keep it factual and no flaming.

A Season for Bears

When I read the newspaper yesterday, the subject of one of the main stories was about the increased number of black bear sightings in urban areas. When I sat down to watch the news on television last night, one of the lead stories was also about the increased number of bears in the province. Residents are getting a bit edgy as many of the sightings are in urban areas in some of the bigger cities in the province. Black bears have been seen on decks, porches, patios and in dumpsters of local businesses. In a couple of cases in the Saint John area, one bear has become increasingly aggressive with each encounter.

The Department of Natural Resources has been busy this year dealing with complaints and setting live traps for the bears in numerous locations in hopes of capturing the bears and relocating them. In the case of the aggressive bear in the Saint John area, it will most likely have to be put down if captured in the interest of safety. Conservation Officers are having a tough time getting the bears into the traps however. The many compost bins, garbage dumpsters and household trash left on decks, patios and other areas around homes give the bears easy access to food and they don't need to go into the traps to find food.

So why so many encounters with Black Bears over the past few years? According to the news story I watched on TV, DNR's explanation is some good breeding years and less hunting pressure has allowed the bear population to increase rapidly. The high Canadian Dollar and the downturn in the North American economy means far fewer non-residents are coming to the province to hunt Black Bears resulting in much lower harvest rates than in the past. If you talk with any hunting outfitter in the province, they will verify, the hunters are just not coming. Some outfitters who have in the past, had dozens and dozens of non-resident bear hunters each year are down to a handful each year now. Since 2004, the number of non-resident hunting licenses sold has dropped steadily. In 2008, almost 1000 fewer non-resident licenses were used than in 2007. So, what can be done to help curb the bear problem?

Here's an idea! Give trappers in New Brunswick a bear harvesting season! On a number of occasions, the New Brunswick Trappers & Fur Harvesters Federation has passed resolutions and submitted them to Fish & Wildlife asking for a bear harvest season with foot snares. Each time, the idea has been turned down for several different reasons. One of the main ones that keeps popping up is that hunting outfitters in the province are worried a bear harvesting season for trappers will impact there business. That argument just doesn't fly anymore.

As previously mentioned, there were 1000 fewer non-resident black bear licences used in 2008. Coincidently, there are on average, 1000 fur harvesting licenses sold in the province each year. Even if every trapper that bought a license decided to target a bear, there still would be no increased pressure. Chances are slim that even half would set for bear, the number that would be successful would be even less again. As the NBTFHF suggested previously, the season could be held in late autumn after the bear hunting season closes, although, there is no real reason why it should have to be.

The concerns of Hunting Outfitters are understandable but unfounded. The Department of Natural Resources are experiencing a black bear problem that will most likely get even worse over the next several years. Although not a total solution to the problem, a fur harvesting season for black bears could certainly help out. In some situations where bear problem have become more serious, DNR & Trappers could certainly work together to remove the problem animals. It's a win win situation for everybody. The general public get peace of mind knowing something is being done to solve the problem, NB Trappers get a bear season and DNR spends less time, money and resources on the problem. Here's hoping the powers that be will consider this option!

Rabies Control Scrapped

The New Brunswick Government, in all it's wisdom, decided to scrap the Wildlife Rabies Control Program that has been ongoing in the province since 2001. The first case of Raccoon Rabies was discovered in New Brunswick in 2000. By the fall of 2001, 61 cases had been confirmed. The Department of Health launched into action and the New Brunswick Wildlife Rabies Control project began. By Live Trapping, Vaccinating and Release (TVR) combined with depopulation, 2002 saw only 3 cases of raccoon rabies. Since 2002, there has not been a confirmed case of raccoon rabies in the province.

In 2008, the program switched from the TVR method to baits dropped from an airplane. Now, in 2009, the NB Government cancelled the project altogether, citing budget cutbacks as the reason. Meanwhile, the State of Maine continues to be plagued with cases of raccoon rabies. As of July 14, 2009, 35 cases have been confirmed in the state, the closest only a few kilometres from the New Brunswick border near Kirkland, NB. With only one year of aerial baiting in the area, there is a chance that the virus could enter the province again in this area.

One has to wonder, why cancel the program now? The program has been undeniably successful for the past 8 years. New Brunswick is the first jurisdiction in North America that has successfully halted the raccoon rabies virus. If Maine had been as aggressive in combating the virus and no cases had been found in the last few years, it would be understandable. However, knowing the disease is not under control in the state, our government still made the baffling decision to cut the program.

In terms of project funding, the program was really not that expensive considering the benefits. In fact, total cost of the project annually was less than some executive salaries at NBPower. Considering it costs about $1800.00 per person to administer post exposure shots to those who have potentially come in contact with the virus, it doesn't take long to realize the savings. Now, if the virus does appear in the province again, we are basically starting from scratch again. 

Trapping season dates and species legal to trap can vary from WMZ to WMZ. Please check the Wildlife Management Zone you will be trapping in to make sure of the season opening and closing dates and which species can be legally harvested in that zone.





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